This rainy Saturday I spent a few last hours at Winthrop putting some finishing touches on little things I had hoped to get accomplished this summer. It was very quiet and provided time for me to reflect on these past two months.
So much has changed since I walked in the door on July 1st and I have learned a great deal. This past week – with every administrator back in the district and over 90% of our staff coming into school to set-up, organize, and get ready for next week – I realized what a truly great school system this is.
But that was based on adult interactions … the true highlights of my week were (1) having the kindergarteners playing outside and visiting the school on Wednesday, along with four fantastic fifth graders who volunteered to give up a summer morning to be tour guides, and (2) seeing many of those same kindergartners at the Mayor’s Kindergarten Picnic in the Park on Thursday night. 2024 – wow!
I would be remiss to not point out the work of George Ferguson, our custodian, along with Tim, Andrew, and Sean, our summer custodial staff. They have worked tirelessly on not only the usual summer tasks, but also completed days and days of hauling, packing, storing, and tossing as the teachers and I cleaned out closets and classrooms! The building is looking great and will get a final sweep, swish, and dusting on Monday morning to be ready for students. Also, if you happen to know (or run into) Mark Kelsey or Nathan Atwater, please give them a big THANKS! They have done a phenomenal job at updating our technology and providing training to our teachers.
I’m eagerly awaiting Tuesday and the 179 days that follow!
This summer every classroom was fitted with a SMART Board, and elementary teachers across the district have had the opportunity for training with the district technology integration specialist, Mark Kelsey. These trainings were a hit … Sold out! Standing room only! … and teachers are excited to get back into school with new ways to promote learning and engage students.
Last year each grade level piloted a FOSS (Full Option Science System) unit and this year we will have full integration of FOSS, in conjunction with our newly aligned science standards. The shift in our science curriculum transitions students from reading about science to actually doing science! This hands-on approach requires higher level thinking skills through an inquiry based approach to science topics.
A dedicated group of Melrose health and wellness providers worked last spring, along with district administrators, teachers, and parents, and chose Health Promotion Wave for a new comprehensive Health program. Aligned to both the national and state standards, the Winthrop is excited to be the pilot elementary school for this new curriculum.
As an elementary school we are always focused on literacy and math and this year will be no different. As we are in science, in reading, writing, and math we will be working to focus on deeper conceptual understandings with problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Almost more importantly that any of the material items, or curriculum improvements, are the new and returning staff members who will be at Winthrop:
- Ms. Liz Bates will be a new co-teacher working in 2nd grade this year.
- Ms. Kim Dello Russo will be the new art teacher as Ms. Benski has moved over to the high school. Ms. Dello Russo will be at the Winthrop on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays and at Horace Mann on other days.
- Ms. Susan Mayo is a paraprofessional who is returning to the Winthrop from the Franklin Early Childhood Center. She will be working in 2nd grade.
- There will also be a new Educational Team Facilitator, a new special education teacher (MSN), and a substitute guidance counselor (until November.) Check back soon for more information on those positions!
In addition to all the incoming kindergartners, we also will be welcoming close to ten new students and families in grades 1-5 when school opens. Please join me in helping them to become part of the Winthrop!
I can’t believe there are only two weeks left before staff and students return to school. Hopefully, by now most of you have received your summer letter from your new teacher and are getting excited to come to school!
It’s not too late to catch up on your summer reading, or spend some time getting your brain used to learning again. Here are some tips:
- Write a letter to me or your new teacher. Email counts and we love to get them!
- Ask someone at home to help you try a new recipe. Do all the measuring yourself.
- Play a game – try your own version of Hangman, or how about Scrabble, Bananagrams, or Pairsinpears? I just learned that last one on vacation and am addicted to it!
- Help make the grocery list and then go shopping. Bring a pencil and paper to keep a running tally of how much you think it will cost.
- Read, read, then read some more. Books, magazines, the back of cereal boxes, e-readers, comics, etc. It doesn’t matter what you’re reading, just that you are!
- Send postcards to your family, friends, or to school from your vacation. Be sure to use descriptive language so people can visualize where you are.
I said “two weeks” at the top of this post, but you really have 17 days. What are you going to do with them?